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Variation in Native Bee Faunas and its Implications for Detecting Community Changes

Neal M Williams, University of Calgary
Robert L Minckley, University of Utah
Fernando A Silveira, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais


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Changes in flower-visiting insect populations or communities that result from human impacts can be documented by measuring spatial or temporal trends, or by comparing abundance or species composition before and after disturbance. The level of naturally occurring variation in populations and communities over space and time will dictate the sampling effort required to detect human-induced changes. We compiled a set of existing surveys of the bee faunas of natural communities from around the world to examine patterns of abundance and richness. We focused on a subset of these studies to illustrate variation in bee communities among different sites and within sites over different spatial and temporal scales. We used examples from our compilation and other published studies to illustrate sampling approaches that maximize the value of future sampling efforts. Existing studies suggest that bee faunas are locally diverse, highly variable in space and time, and often rich in rare species. All of these attributes indicate that intense sampling among sites and years will be required to differentiate changes due to specific impacts from the natural dynamics of populations and communities. Given the limits on time and funding for studying bees, approaches that maximize information for effort must be sought for future studies. Reliable information on population and community changes may be gleaned from examining “functional groups” rather than entire faunas. Regardless of the purpose of the study, standardized sampling protocols using replicated designs will increase the value of data. Standardization permits statistical testing of changes in bee populations and communities, and allows for rigorous comparison between studies.

Key words

Apiformes, Apoidea, faunal surveys, flower-visiting insects, functional groups, monitoring long-term changes, sampling protocol, solitary bees, species composition, species richness, worldwide bee faunas

Copyright © 2001 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087